Mattson piles up the points

Ely junior averaging 30-plus, reaches 1,000 during home debut

CONGRATULATIONS for Ely’s Erika Mattson who celebrated with family members after scoring her 1,000th career point. Photo by Eric Sherman.

by Tom Coombe -

Quite simply, Erika Mattson has become a scoring machine.
In a season-opening victory, the Ely junior knocked down eight three-point baskets and scored 34 points, and she’s followed up with 29 and 30-point outbursts.
The latest came Tuesday, when Mattson shook off a slow start, warmed up in the second half and passed the 1,000-point mark for her career late in the Timberwolves’ 56-31 victory over Greenway.
Ely improved to 2-1 with the win, which was punctuated by Mattson’s 1,000th point.
She needed 26 points to get there and it looked early on that the milestone would wait as Ely and the visiting Raiders slogged through a whistle-filled, low-scoring sloppy first half.
But in the second stanza, Mattson started to find her range and the milestone came on a drive to the basket with about three minutes left. The game was stopped and Mattson was presented with a basketball commemorating her achievement.
If the first three games are any indication, Mattson will continue to be an offensive force. She averaged 15 points per game last year while anchoring the Ely offense with fellow 1,000-point scorer Shayla Zaverl, who graduated in the spring.
Now, opposing teams are focusing their effort on stopping Mattson but they haven’t yet found success. She is averaging a whopping 31 points per night thus far.
“So far this season Erika has really shown that she can score no matter what kind of defense is played on her,” said Ely Head Coach Darren Visser. “With her past success teams are definitely trying harder to stop her.”
As the milestone neared, the Wolves and Mattson struggled to get in sync against a physical Greenway team.
That seemed to ease late as the Wolves pulled away, and the 1,000th point lifts what could be a giant sized burden.
“I don’t believe the 1000th point was a distraction but I always think it is nice for the player to get it accomplished because I think anyone would feel added pressure until it is done,” said Visser.
Visser is quick to note that Ely’s success so far can be attributed to more than his high-scoring junior.
Another junior standout Brielle Kallberg, had a double-double Tuesday with 11 points and 16 rebounds- 13 on the defensive end. Kallberg has scored in double figures in the Wolves’ other two contests as well, including 24 in Saturday’s 75-63 loss at Two Harbors.
Kallberg has been Ely’s top force on the boards and has 10 steals as well.
“Brielle has been known as a scorer and great defense in the past but is also doing a great job of handling the ball more and rebounding,” said Visser.
Seniors Lida Dodge and Gabi Omerza, junior Winter Sainio, freshman Ande Visser and eighth-grader Rachel Coughlin have all been part of the Wolves’ rotation. Visser had eight points and five rebounds in the home opener.
“The key for us is having other players stepping up and contributing so we are not a one dimensional team,” said Visser. “So far I feel that the rest of the team, Brielle, Lida, Winter, Gabi, Ande, and Rachel, are stepping up and working hard to make our team multi-dimensional.”
While Mattson and Kallberg have provided much of the scoring punch, Visser said the others “have provided solid defense and are becoming more of a part of the offense each and every game. I truly believe they are just going to keep getting better as the season goes. We also have several JV players who are showing that they are getting close to helping the varsity as well.”
• Ely fell in a shootout at Two Harbors last Saturday.
Mattson had 29 points while Kallberg had a 24-point, 15-rebound outing, while Sainio had four points and six rebounds.
The Wolves hurt their cause at the line, making just 12-of-29 free throw attempts.
• In Nov. 29 season-opener, an early 8-0 deficit was only temporary.
Mattson led as Ely charged back, went on a 25-2 run and took control of the game, which went into running time in the second half as the Wolves prevailed 67-37.
Mattson had 26 of her game-high 34 points in the opening half, while Dodge had eight points, three rebounds and a pair of assists.
Sainio had eight points and nine rebounds in the win.
• After a Thursday night visit to International Falls, the Wolves are idle until Dec. 17, when they visit Chisholm.